This Is the Secret to Exploring a New City Like a Local — and It’s Free

A traveler takes in a view
Photo by marvent /

When a major travel site like Orbitz describes a free service as “a hidden gem” that “not many people know about,” thrifty travelers had better pay attention.

And that’s exactly how Orbitz recently described the Global Greeter Network, or GGN. It’s a nonprofit organization comprising volunteer tour guides based in more than 130 destinations worldwide.

GGN’s website explains:

“Greeters welcome visitors to their city and take them on a personal, two- to three-hour walk, showing them the city beyond the guide books and off the beaten track. Greeters are volunteers who love their city or region and are keen to share with you their enthusiasm and knowledge about the city or region.”

And yes, that’s all free — although the freebies don’t necessarily stop there.

Orbitz blogger Erica Bray, who recently used the GGN herself, adds:

“Another cool bonus: unique access. This may not be something you typically associate with a free service. However, because Global Greeter guides often have deep ties to the places and people within their respective cities — and some have pretty cool day jobs — you could enjoy exclusive perks not offered on group tours.”

Bray called on the Global Greeter Network when out-of-town family visited her in Chicago, where she lives. Their perks included tickets to a Chicago Cubs game and a boat tour.

Chicago is one of nine North American destinations where you can currently meet up with a Greeter:

  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Chicago
  • Gaspé, Quebec
  • Houston
  • New York City
  • Salem, Oregon
  • Sherbrooke, Quebec
  • Toronto
  • Trois-Rivières, Quebec

Greeters can also be found in multiple countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Check out GGN’s “Find a Destination” page for more details, including links to the websites for particular destinations.

To request a Greeter in a particular destination, visit the destination’s website and complete the request form in advance of your trip. From there, you will be matched with a Greeter, who will contact you by email to hash out the details.

For more travel freebies, check out “8 Great Travel Freebies You Can Get in 2017.”

Have you ever used or heard of the Global Greeter Network? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

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